What to do when you inherit a business you don’t want

On Behalf of | Dec 27, 2021 | Probate

Maybe your father always dreamed of you taking over the family business when he retired. You really had no interest in doing that, but you put off having that conversation. Then he unexpectedly died, and you find out that he left the business to you.

This is just one of a number of scenarios that can leave people owning a business they don’t want. If that’s where you are, how do you proceed – particularly if there are no partners in the business to whom you can sell your share?

Steps to take before selling it

If you’ve decided to sell the business, that takes some due diligence and professional guidance. You want to do right by your loved one – and by their employees and customers. You don’t want to rush things, but you don’t want to delay for too long either. You’ll also want to communicate with whomever the executor of the estate is – unless it’s you – as it goes through probate.

You want to determine how the business is doing financially. If your loved one had financial, tax and legal advisers, you’ll want to consult them. You may prefer to bring in your own professionals to get a fresh look at the state of the business.

Unless you’ve got an employee who’s able and willing to buy the business, you may need to hire a business broker who can market the business for you. This involves getting a valuation of the business to ensure that you’re seeking a fair price for it.

Don’t feel pressured to keep it if it’s not right for you

It’s important not to let yourself be talked into taking over a business just to “keep it in the family” if running a business isn’t for you – or feel that you owe it to your loved one. Remember that they left it to you, which means they trusted you to do what you thought was best. 

There are numerous considerations and steps too numerous to detail here. You and your family are already dealing with grief and loss, which doesn’t help in good decision-making. That’s why it’s crucial to have sound financial and legal guidance.